The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

To see the most comprehensive collection of photographs of Zimbabwe's tragic
"clean-up" (several pages of them) go to
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1430910/posts
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Clean-up claims six
By Our own staff

AT least six people, among them four children, have died so far in
circumstances related to the controversial Operation Restore Order, which
has left thousands of people homeless, The Standard can reveal.

Some were crushed to death by structures that remained after police
partially demolished their homes, while others died after exposure to cold.
A fortnight ago, two-year-old Charmaine Nyika of Old Tafara died after a
wall, that police had partially destroyed, collapsed on her while
one-and -half-year-old baby Terence Munyaka, died last week under similar
circumstances in Chitungwiza.

Early this month, 30-year-old Onward Duwa of Chirumhanzu committed suicide
after a misunderstanding with his father over accommodation, following the
demolition of his house in Harare.

In Bulawayo, where about 10 000 people have been displaced, eight month-old
Aleck Sibanda from Richmond suburb died of pneumonia last week after
excessive exposure to cold following the demolition of his parents house.

Sibanda was buried last Wednesday in a tense mood, with churches, civic
groups and concerned citizens condemning the operation.

The police destroyed Sibandas house, burning blankets and food, leaving the
family in the open and exposing the child to the harsh winter cold.

Speaking to The Standard at the gravesite, the deceased boys mother,
Sandiso Mutupidzi, said she would seek advice on taking legal action against
the government for the loss of her only child.

This boy lying dead here was my only child and I dont know what to do. I
am making efforts to see that justice prevails. I am a poor person but what
happened to my son needs Gods intervention because we are fighting a
powerful force that does not care about human life, said a grief-stricken
Mutupidzi.

Alecks father, Crispen Sibanda, cried while at the same time trying to
console his distraught wife. The Sibandas had spent almost a week in the
open.

Had it not for the destruction of our house, burning of our blankets, food
and other personal belongings, this boy could not have died. We are poor but
we were going to look after our child, fumed Sibanda.

Pastor Patson Neta of the New Life For All Fellowship Church said he was
disturbed that an innocent life had been lost as a result of the
governments exercise.

As I speak to you right now, my church is taking care of over 2 000
displaced families. By Tuesday I had 1 126 people at my church, who came
seeking food, accommodation and clothes whilst others were asking for
transport money so that they return to their respective rural homes.

The situation is so pathetic, disturbing and I hope God will provide. The
only appeal I would like to make to the government is that they have to
provide land for these people so that they start preparing for the next
rainy season.

In another related incident, 10-year-old Takudzwa Taroyiwa from Mutare died
of pneumonia after spending nights in the open.

Mutare, which is situated in the Eastern Highlands, is one of the coldest
areas in Zimbabwe.

Woman from Mutare, Chido Nhongo, also died of pneumonia leaving behind a
five-month-old baby. Chidos husband, Enock Nhongo, said although his wife
was not feeling well before undergoing an operation, her illness worsened
after being exposed to the winter temperatures.

My baby son is now surviving on bottled milk and sleeping in the open like
us grown ups, Nhongo said.

Post-mortems conducted at Mutare provincial hospital confirmed the two died
of pneumonia.

The Red Cross Society of Zimbabwe on Thursday started setting up tents for
displaced families who had camped at Sports Oval Grounds in Sakubva.

However, Mutare executive mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza, says the assistance by
Red Cross is just a drop in the ocean as the city estimates 120 000 people
have been displaced by the operation. Kagurabadza said Mutare was likely to
have more deaths related to sleeping outside in the cold.

Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi, refused to comment referring all
questions to Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and Urban Development, who was not available for comment.

We cant be public relations officers of another ministry, you talk to
Chombo because we are just a law enforcement agency, Mohadi said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Clean-up forces 300 000 pupils out of school
By our own staff

EDUCATION, one of the sectors where Zimbabwe won world recognition for
post-independence successes, is a major casualty of the governments
on-going clean-up operation, The Standard can reveal.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe
Teachers Association (Zimta) estimate that as many as 300 000 children have
dropped out of school after their homes were destroyed.
The teachers organisations last week said they understood regional
directors of education were compiling a list of children who have dropped
out of school since the operation started.

The Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, and the
permanent secretary for Education, Dr Stephen Mahere, were last week said to
be in a series of meetings and by yesterday, Mahere was reportedly out of
town while the minister was not reachable for comment.

Children have dropped out of school because some have found themselves
living in areas far away from their schools, or because the transport crisis
has rendered it impossible to travel daily to and from school and arrive on
time. Others have completely relocated and face challenges of raising school
and uniform fees without a regular source of income.

Zimta said: Learners whose parents have been forced to relocate to other
settlements or rural areas, have had their learning programmes disrupted.
Even those few affected learners who remain at the sites of demolished
structures seem so traumatised that they cannot concentrate in their
learning. The affected teachers are in a similar state of shock.

Reminding the government that education is a basic human right, Zimta said
school children and teachers who were affected by the postponement of the
June 2005 examinations were seriously disoriented.

It is likely that the affected learners will not be resident in the suburbs
or townships near enough to their examination centres when the rescheduled
examination papers are written. How will the candidates who were forced to
relocate to far away rural or resettlement areas daily commute to their
examination centres? asked Zimta, which described the predicament of school
children and teachers affected by the clean-up as desperate.

The more outspoken PTUZ said thousands of school children had lost valuable
learning time as a result of the disruptions or because their teachers were
busy looking for accommodation or asking for time off to find new lodgings.

Learning time has also been lost because children are arriving at school
late or asking to go home early because of transport problems, resulting in
learning time being eroded.

According to the PTUZ: In the first three weeks attendance was inconsistent
and sporadic as children helped in safe-guarding family property against
theft while parents were looking for accommodation.

The majority of teachers were lodgers and bore the brunt of the clean-up.
But as if that was not enough, rentals soared as accommodation became
scarce.

The most acutely affected school children and teachers were in the Harare
suburbs of Mbare, Hatfield, Highfield, Glen Norah, Glen View, Budiriro,
Mufakose, Warren Park, Kuwadzana, Mabelreign, Dzivarasekwa, Epworth, Tafara
and Mabvuku.

In Harare central, the impact was more on teachers than on pupils, although
there were reports of pupils missing lessons. Teachers have not been
reporting to work because they fear losing their property.

The PTUZ warned of threats to the family unit saying there were disruptions
within families, leading to separations as a result of the clean-up. The
union said it was worried that the disruptions could fuel child prostitution
among those dropping out of school.

The girl child is going to be the biggest victim of this exercise. There
has also been a substantial increase in children asking for transfer
letters, but the real movement of children will be seen during the August
school holidays. The benefits of the operation remain more apparent than
real, the PTUZ warned.

The two teachers organisations said they were concerned that while teachers
were among the victims of the clean-up, they were not being accorded any
preference in the allocation of stands announced by government for civil
servants.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Urban areas to get chiefs
By our own correspondent

MUTARE The government is preparing to place urban areas under the
jurisdiction of chiefs because they are better placed to implement national
policy.

Webster Shamu, the Minister of State for Policy Implementation in the Office
of the President, made the revelation last week in Mutare at a stakeholders
meeting, where he met chiefs, business people, heads of government
departments, parastatals and city council officials.
Shamu said: Urban centres like Mutare, Chipinge and Rusape will have
chiefs, the same with other centres in the country before the end of 2006.

He said chiefs were better placed to implement government policy unlike some
local authority officials at the helm of urban areas at the moment. The
minister blamed some council officials and government employees for
undermining government efforts by failing to implement development in
urban areas, saying this was the reason behind the governments plan to
introduce chiefs in urban centres.

He said there was stunted growth in urban centres owing to current office
bearers attempts to discredit the ruling Zanu PF government and President
Robert Mugabe.

That chiefs are confined to rural areas is something colonial. Before
Mutare was a city there was a chief here as is the case of other cities. It
was a deliberate ploy by whites, who did not what anything to do with
African traditional leaders and wanted no interference in their affairs. We
will put an end to that, he said.

Shamu blamed the opposition MDC-dominated Mutare City Council for failing to
come up with a turnaround programme for the town. He said had the council
done so, it would have benefited from a $40 billion grant from the Reserve
Bank. He warned the council that it was inviting trouble by resisting
Operation Restore Order.

But Mutares executive mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza said he had co-operated
with the police.

We have been co-operating with the police and the turnaround programme for
the city was left to the Town Clerk, (Dr Morgan Chawawa) who redrafted the
turnaround programme of the Harare City Council. But the Town Clerk did us a
disservice, Kagurabadza said.

Chawawa was not immediately available for commen
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Airzim fails to remit CAAZ passenger fees
By Allen Tichaona

THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) was forced to cancel its
contract with the embattled national airline Air Zimbabwe (Airzim) after the
latter failed to remit passenger service charges collected on behalf of the
aviation authority.

CAAZ issued a notice saying that Airzim as was no longer collecting
passenger service charges on its behalf due to processing problems and
passengers were now asked to pay the charges directly to CAAZ. The move by
the aviation authority now means that both domestic and international air
travellers have to queue first for an air ticket and then to pay for the
service charges.
Airzim was the only airline stopped by CAAZ from collecting the passenger
service charges and other foreign airlines, which ply the Zimbabwean route,
will continue to do so.

Sources revealed that CAAZ was owed billions of dollars and the amount could
be as high as $30 billion dollars.

David Chawota, the acting general manager and CEO of CAAZ said they stopped
Airzim from collecting the money as a proactive approach to an impending
problem.

What we did was one of the many measures we are taking in efforts to keep
on providing a service to passengers, Chawota said.

When asked if this was not going to inconvenience passengers, the CAAZ CEO
said it was better for the customers to stand in two queues than to lose the
service. The money from the passenger service charges is used to maintain
airport facilities.

He however could not confirm or deny whether Airzim owed them money saying
that there were reasons for them making such a move.

We are not comfortable discussing our financial issues in the Press but
maybe you should contact Airzim, Chawota said. When pressed further, he
said their relationship with Airzim was contractual and by their taking such
a decision, it means one party was failing to meet its contractual
obligations.

Efforts to contact Tendai Mahachi, Airzim CEO, were unsuccessful. His mobile
phone was constantly unavailable.

The passenger services charges for domestic passengers are $50 000 and for
international passengers, $300 000, and these are for using airport
facilities.

CAAZ introduced the ticket system in 2002 and all airlines that fly into the
country collect the charges on behalf of the aviation authority.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Chiyangwa fired
By Valentine Maponga

ZANU PF Mashonaland West provincial executive has dismissed its suspended
chairman, Philip Chiyangwa, for his involvement in the controversial
espionage case that erupted in December last year, although the courts found
he had no case to answer.

The Standard understands that his dismissal was communicated to the partys
disciplinary committee last week and that the issue was also raised during
the partys central committee meeting on Friday.
Official Zanu PF sources said that President Robert Mugabe was also not
happy with Chiyangwa.

Chiyangwa was arrested last year together with four top Zanu PF officials,
three of whom have been convicted for espionage.

The President has also maintained that we cant have people at that level
getting involved in such activities. He says the party would lose its
integrity, said a source.

The source said two days before the central committee meeting the provincial
executive had written a letter proposing the dismissal of Chiyangwa from the
post of chairman of the province.

He added: The disciplinary committee is most likely going to concur with
the provincial executives decision.

Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo could not deny or confirm that the
dismissal of the flamboyant business man from the chairmanship of
Mashonaland West. He, however, confirmed that Chiyangwas case was discussed
at Fridays meeting.

Acting provincial chairperson, John Mafa, was not immediately available for
comment.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Put Zim on G8 agenda British MP
By Loughty Dube

BULAWAYO BRITISH Labour Party MP Kate Hoey, who sneaked into the country
recently to witness the controversial clean-up exercise, says she will lobby
other British law-makers to pressure Prime Minister Tony Blair to put
Zimbabwe top on the agenda of the G8 summit on 8 July in Scotland.

Hoey, who is the Labour MP for Vauxhall, was in the country to see
first-hand the results of Operation Murambatsvina that has left thousands of
people homeless.
The MP spent a week incognito in Zimbabwe, watching in horror as state
security agents tore peoples properties down.

Speaking in a telephone interview from London on Friday afternoon, Hoey said
she was shocked with what she saw in Zimbabwe.

The experience of the destruction of peoples homes left me numb and it was
horrific. There are no words to describe the manner in which peoples
properties were destroyed and the situation that is being faced by the now
homeless people, Hoey said.

She visited several sites in Harare that were destroyed by the police and
spoke to families that were affected by the destruction of their properties.

Hoey visited several suburbs in Harare and Kilarney in Bulawayo, where she
witnessed police razing down structures.

She said the government was at war with its own people but expressed hope
that international pressure would be piled on President Robert Mugabe.

The systematic destruction of peoples homes was horrific and the manner it
is being done in is very heavy-handed and I am currently lobbying other MPs
to ensure that the issue is raised by Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8
summit, she said.

Britain is the current chair of the powerful industrialised Group of Eight.

Kilarney suburb was the worst affected residential area in Bulawayo after
police destroyed several buildings in the suburb, throwing thousands of
people into the open.

Hoey said the British MPs will also call for direct pressure to be put on
the South African government to act on the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe.
President Thabo Mbekis quiet diplomacy has not helped the Zimbabwean
crisis.

The crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe currently will definitely be priority, at
the G8 meeting but the main problem to all this has been South Africas
position as alluded to by Foreign Affairs Secretary Jack Straw early this
week, she said.

She accused Mbeki of turning a blind eye to the crisis adding that South
Africa should desist from blocking countries that want the Zimbabwean issue
to be raised on the international scene.

Hoey said targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his lieutenants should be
tightened in the face of ongoing human rights abuses.

The call by Hoey comes hard on the heels of another call by the MDC for the
inclusion of more of Mugabes cronies onto the sanctions list.

MDC representative in Brussels, Grace Kwinje, last week addressed European
Union (EU) ministers and urged them to include more of Mugabes cronies on
the sanctions list.

EU Members of Parliament two weeks ago ordered a review of the sanctions
list.

A United Nations envoy will this week visit Zimbabwe to assess the ongoing
clean-up operation, which has been condemned by the international community
including the human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Drop in production to blame for milk shortage NADF
By Theodisa Mbengano

THE National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF) has attributed the shortage
of milk to a decline in the number of registered dairy farmers.

NADF said the dairy farmers had dropped from 314 in 2000 to 277 this year,
adding there was great uncertainty due to continued listing of farms, which
the government wishes to acquire from their present owners.
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) embarked on Producer Finance Scheme (PFS)
in 2002 in a move meant to help new dairy farmers to improve efficiency at
farm level. The programme appears not to have been the success it was
intended because milk shortages persist.

NADF said dairy farmers were in constant dialogue with processors and
relevant authorities to try to alleviate the problems facing the
association.

NADF said: The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwes financial package about to be
made available to the dairy producers at preferential interest rate should
assist in improving the viability and thus improving production.

Deon Theron, NADF chairman, said the shortages were a result of viability
problems caused partly by rising inflation.

He said: Inflation and the inability to produce feed requirements thus
forcing the purchase of expensive, manufactured stockfeeds have constantly
eroded the viability of milk production.

Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) has laid blame on the dairy farmers for the
erratic milk supplies.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Freedonia in deep of mayhem
By Dumisani Mpofu

PLUMES of dust rose high, like the wild Harmattan, across the Sahara. Except
this was neither the Sahara, the season of the dry-dusty wind nor the
desert.

Heavy equipment made up of bulldozers and caterpillars roared, the dust
intensified, enveloping whole areas. The women in their party regalia
cheered and ululated. It was as if this was a significantly momentous
occasion. Perhaps it was, but few of us saw it the same way.
For how could these women and youths dressed in the Freedonia Revolutionary
Party colours celebrate the destruction of their homes? Their paltry
belongings gathered outside resembling an open bazaar or an auction site.

The quiet old man of Freedonia, broke the silence and asked what every one
of us had on their mind but had not uttered: What are you celebrating?

One man answered him, because either he was the only one who heard the
question, or because the others were too busy cheering and urging on the
demolition squad to take note of other things around them, let alone hear
anyone.

He looked well-built and fed, perhaps out of place with the rest of the
cheerleading crowd.

He cleared his throat first and then struggling for breath, he said: You
see Sekuru; we are purging this country of all the vestiges of the
oppressors. We want to drive out the last ghost of the oppressors from our
midst, by removing anything they built or that which reminds us of the
oppressors, then our great ancestors will rest peacefully in their graves,
knowing that the battle which centuries ago they took up arms for, has
finally been won.

The jubilation was short-lived. The winter blast, which had been tolerable,
became a blizzard. Soon, icy cold showers began to pour. Someone was trying
to explain this weather phenomenon to a group of spectators of the zero city
demolition squad. But how does one listen to such talk when instincts yell:
shelter, shelter, shelter!

The portly character beside us startled several of us when he started
shouting out for people who wanted free accommodation at his farm, which he
said was a short drive from the city. They would be housed there in exchange
for their labour. He rushed for shelter in a truck that had been parked a
short-distance from the demolitions. He had some takers and sped off, north
of Free City.

There was talk mumbled protestations of people being subjected to
semi-slavery conditions at settlements owned and run by the nouveaux riches.
The icy cold winter rain came down rather heavily, as if to put out the fire
of the demolition team. The women, who had been celebrating, scurried for
cover, wet and shivering, many of them sure candidates for a bout of flu.
Vulnerable groups were at the mercy of the elements left to succumb to
death.The following morning, not all had survived the cold night and the
effects of the sub-zero downpour. Why does He allow such suffering?

But the dawn of a new day brought with it news of a wave that was sweeping
the locations.

One woman actually swore that she had witnessed one of the cases. I was
there when the officers arrived in half a dozen trucks. They started to
knock down a cottage when six aged elves (zvikwambo) emerged from nowhere
and asked: ‘who sent you? The officers laughed out at the top of their
lungs.

Thats when the drama started. I have never seen anything of the sort. All
of a sudden the officers became hysterical. It was very very scary, I tell
you.

The other story doing the rounds in the locations was more or less the same,
but it referred to demolition teams who were fond of helping themselves to
fruits and sugar cane they found at houses earmarked for demolition. Many
people were going down with a mysterious condition that vexed the medical
profession in Freedonia. The authorities were persuaded to carry out public
warnings to their officers in order to arrest the crisis. The hospitals were
filing up with officers presenting mental conditions (mamhepo).

The FRP had a simple explanation for this: the enemy was trying to scare
away people from a noble exercise. Secretly though, officers were being
relocated from where they had lived among the people into camps. Word was
the authorities were afraid their officers would be victimised or targeted
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Open letter plea to the UN

ON behalf of Zimbabwes poor rats and cockroaches, may I extend our
gratitude to you for voting Zimbabwe into the Human Rights Commission. The
Zimbabwe government has given you a present for your generosity by removing
from among people not like them, rats and cockroaches.

You see, the removal of rats and cockroaches will improve the inflow of
foreign currency. We will now be able to equip our hospitals, have medicines
and retain the medical staff in our hospitals. Our schools will also be well
equipped with all the necessary textbooks, science equipment etc for
effective teaching and teachers will no longer run away from home to work in
foreign lands. Motorists will no longer sleep in queues but in their warm
beds, as fuel will be in abundance. Our country will be biblically flowing
with milk and honey.
We gratefully hope you will sleep peacefully at night knowing fully well
that on your next visit to the Sunshine City you will be met by fresh air
uncontaminated by the smell from rats and cockroaches.

How considerate of our government to remove the venom of rats and
cockroaches soon after its election victory! And in winter rats and
cockroaches dont feel the cold as they are not human. You see, the same
rats and cockroaches from the year 2000 were encouraged by the same
government to be where they are now being removed from.

Our considerate police officers even destroyed clay pots sold by old women
in Chivi along Masvingo/Beitbridge Road (on the way to South Africa),
claiming that the clay pots were sold in foreign currency, which was changed
on the black-market. Can you imagine our economy being sustained by clay
pots? At Jerera Growth Point, they cut down mango trees where women used to
sit selling their goods, so as to drive the point home that those women will
never sit under those trees again. Can you imagine cutting down fruit trees?
Chicken runs at the back of houses in town have been destroyed. Can we say
our economy is a chicken economy?

Should we say we wish Tony Blair and George W Bush go to hell for not voting
Zimbabwe into the Human Rights Commission? Article 5 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights states: No one shall be subjected to torture or
to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. But this is
irrelevant since these are rats and cockroaches. Dont you think these
rats and cockroaches deserve this anyway?

Thank you very much once again for supporting the government of Zimbabwe.

One of the rats and cockroaches

Masvingo
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

An appeal for mercy

MANY people in Mbare have lost their livelihood. Their home industries have
been destroyed, the lodgers removed

On top of all this, home owners are now receiving massive back-dated bills
charging them for water, rates, refuse collection, sewerage, and millions in
penalties.
Many will not be able to pay these bills. Why are they being penalised and
on what legal grounds?

The city administration must not put unbearable burdens on people who have
been hit very hard already by the destruction of housing.

Many lodgers left homeless are now sleeping outside in the cold, including
pregnant women, mothers with small children and extremely sick people. They
have nowhere to go.

Shelter is a basic human right. Every human being is entitled to respect
for his/her life and to safety (The African Charter on Human and Peoples
Rights, article 4).

Officials must refrain from harsh and inhuman treatment of defenceless
people.

It cannot be in the interest of responsible government to drive its citizens
into unemployment, homelessness and general destitution.

Judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy
triumphs over judgment (James 2: 13).

Fr Oskar Wermter SJ

St Peters Catholic Church

Harare
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Another of Mugabe's 'moments of madness'

THE government, without proper planning and warning, has engaged in a
disastrous clean up exercise, the so-called ‘Operation Murambatsvina.

The lack of proper planning surrounding the whole operation has led to valid
claims that the government is denying its citizens their fundamental rights
as human beings; the right to life, shelter and health.
This reminds me of the early 80s when the government unleashed the infamous
Gukurahundi operation on its citizens because of political differences. And
years later, in a veiled acceptance and apology, President Mugabe referred
to the brutalisation of his subjects as a moment of madness.

It seems another moment of madness is upon us as evidenced by events
unfolding before us. Stakeholders, as in the previous episode which occurred
in Matabeleland, have remained the same. Government and its agents are still
the main actors. The theme is basically the same; terror on defenseless
citizens.

But should we again wait for our dear great leader to sober up and tell us
when it suits him that it was a moment of madness? We all want a clean
environment but when the cleaning comes at a price of death then we should
rise and say NO.

Alternative accommodation should have been arranged first before people were
forced to leave illegal structures, some of which, as in the case of
Hatcliffe Extension, were once legal – that is we trust things said by
Minister Ignatious Chombo. But now some families are sleeping in the open
this winter and I shudder to imagine the fate of innocent school children
who are now just roaming the locations instead of attending classes.

Should we just voice our concern and watch this tragedy continue unfolding?
Or is there room for decisive action in response?

Harare city council and police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, must be held
responsible for the current suffering of so many of Zimbabwe citizens.

Disgusted

Chitungwiza
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

'Tsunami' hits informal sector
By our own Staff

THE governments crackdown on illegal structures and flea markets has
affected the operations of the informal sector, an industry that had
absorbed millions of the unemployed, StandardBusiness has established.

Armed police have since May been rounding up informal traders in the city
centre and in the townships in an operation dubbed Operation
Murambatsvina/Restore Order.
Thousands of informal traders who depended on selling wares have been
banished from the pavements and market stalls their workplace for years
while valuable goods were impounded in the widely condemned urban
beautification campaign.

The government accuses traders, including vegetable vendors, of turning
their stalls into a haven for illegal trading in hard currency, drugs and
basic commodities, which are in short supply.

But analysts told StandardBusiness that the economy is on its last legs and
cannot withstand any further battering, such as that accompanying Operation
Murambatsvina.

The majority of those involved in the informal sector were at the bottom of
the economic and social ladder and endured back-breaking work while getting
irregular and insecure incomes with little or no access to social security,
said one analyst.

Because of the government blitz, many of marginal Zimbabweans have found
themselves redundant and with no source of a regular income at a time when
accessibility and affordability of commodities is difficult.

Economists warn that the blitz will depress aggregate demand in the economy
and consequently chop further the Gross Domestic Product.

The informal sector supports over three million families and makes a very
substantial contribution to the national economy, said a Bulawayo-based
economist.

Its destruction will impact on human welfare across the country, damaging
food supplies and markets and plunging millions into increased poverty and
deprivation.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

No food, clothes and shelter
sundayopinion By Marko Phiri

THE past five weeks have added a new dimension to the hardships people in
Zimbabwe have come to know and grudgingly accept.

While the majority of people have had to deal with expensive and scarce food
commodities, with the ruling elite virtually enjoying the best of
everything, another angle has been added to their ever-increasing woes.
Food, clothes and shelter have been known as mans basic necessities since
the beginning of history, but the failure to access all three is being
painfully felt in Zimbabwe. The absence of a roof over ones head is partly
responsible for people accepting life as perpetual lodgers.

It also pointed to the harsh realities of breadwinners who failed to provide
for their families. But during the beginning of May, the little that
families had put in to provide protection from hostile elements fell victim
to the governments clean up campaign. Many here believe that the government
ceased to care about the welfare of the people long ago.

May heralds the onset of winter, yet homes were destroyed amid growing food
shortages, leaving many without shelter during a biting winter. In one fell
swoop, hundreds of thousand of people across the country were both hungry
and homeless. This was after the United Nations and other food security
agencies had already warned that at least half the population here faced
starvation and would need food aid. For aid agencies, it means besides
efforts to feed the hungry millions, they must now also provide shelter for
them.

And still the authorities said they were not going to allow aid agencies to
set up temporary structures to shelter the people from the winter cold.

Any makeshift structures put up by relief agencies were also bulldozed,
after being termed illegal buildings. It is common practice worldwide when
populations are displaced be it by natural disasters or civil war, tents and
other temporary structures are set for the affected people while plans are
being made to resettle them properly. Zimbabwe therefore appears to offer a
case unheard of in the world, thus raising a lot of theories about the
motives behind the forced evictions and demolitions.

The year 2005 will go down the history of Zimbabwe as one that tested the
governments commitment to providing a better life for the people it says
elected it into power. But then this has been asked already during the
course of the countrys 25 years of independence, and the questions, no
doubt, became even louder when the government unleashed former freedom
fighters onto commercial farms which saw the beginning of shortages of food
and foreign currency.

In the natural order of things where food, clothes and shelter compete for
their presence in a peoples existence, many agree that they would rather
sleep on empty stomachs than have full bellies but with nowhere to lay their
heads for the night. They will still prefer having some clothes and a roof
than being naked. But for hundreds of thousands who have been denied both
food and shelter by a government that seems to have abandoned any semblance
of observing these basic human rights, they ask why they are being treated
not differently from wild animals.

The past five weeks have seen people being turned overnight into vagrants
with nowhere to go even after they had been allowed to erect those same
structures the government had encouraged them to put up in its bid to fulfil
the goal of Housing for All by the Year 2000. But then it has been known
that in politics there are no permanent friends, just permanent interests.
So the people who took part in the violent seizures of land from commercial
farmers who now see the structures they had put up to celebrate reclamation
of their heritage giving in to demolition teams should have seen it coming.

Priests across the country tell sad stories about families who approach them
for assistance. But with their efforts being hampered by threats from the
police that whatever initiative the priests set up will also be demolished
there is very little if anything they can do.

In Bulawayo a priest told me he wanted to set up a response to the crisis
that has left hundreds of thousands in the city homeless and hungry but was
not sure how to go about it. He feared police interference. So while a
humanitarian crisis unfolds authorities are still limiting relief efforts
and warn that it is the governments duty to make alternative arrangements
for the affected families.

But over the years, it has been demonstrated that the government has no
capacity to deal with relief efforts and has been aided in those endeavours
by non-governmental organisations. Widows, orphans and young children have
been left out in the open by the operation, and it is anybodys guess how
they will end the year 2005.

The irony of the increased hardship for the people is that their
homelessness came only a few weeks after the 31 March election won by the
ruling Zanu PF. The ruling partys campaign was based on electoral promises
that it was going to better the lives of the people.

While governments have as their obligation the betterment of peoples lives,
what is happening in Zimbabwe raises serious questions about the role of an
elected government if its mandate does not extend to social and economic
justice. But then, many gave up on expecting the Zanu PF regime to champion
people–friendly policies long ago.

Muted voices in the streets talk about a possible uprising, and this is even
more tragic when such is uttered by old women who by those silent
pronouncements imply they are ready to confront the security forces even
with their batons and teargas. That is how monstrous this government has
become. It is ready to suppress dissent not from hot-blooded youths, but
from elderly men and women who bore the burden raising the present
generation of leaders from childhood.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Mugabe should learn from Mbeki
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama

I AM pleasantly surprised at the number of my Zanu PF friends who are now
coming to me to apologise for some of the things they said to me because I
criticised their party.

The on-going merciless destruction of informal businesses and poor peoples
homes has been the last straw.
They have changed their minds. They now openly say: Musangano warasa gwara.
Hauchagadzirika – The party has lost direction and can not be redirected.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote that Zanu PF is afflicted by an avenging
spirit (Ngozi) and was going to self-destruct. This is happening right
before our very eyes.

What is most poignant is that the most affected are war veterans. They have
been the vanguard of the party. After leading in the violent land invasions
they vigorously campaigned for their ruling party. Now their
cooperative-built houses have been razed to the ground and they are
destitute. Their beloved patron has thrown them on the dust heap.

Believe it or not, there are still some die-hard party functionaries who
refuse to see the truth which is staring them in the face. Yes, they may see
the truth but, because of vested personal interests, they would rather cling
to the sinking ship. They find all manner of justification for doing so.
These justifications are often in the form of scape-goating.

Professor Leon Festinger, one of the best known social psychologists in the
world called this phenomenon cognitive dissonance.

He said human beings show a strain towards consistency. When they feel an
inconsistency between what they know and what they have done, or are doing,
they often engage in rather unexpected communication behaviour in order to
reduce this cognitive dissonance.

A pertinent example emerged in a recent discussion with a friend who is a
Zanu PF official. In the discussion I referred to our President as being
dictatorial. The man was so furious that I should so refer to the President.

He said the President was a very magnanimous person, who listens to other
peoples views and has the best interests of the people of Zimbabwe at
heart. His reaction was so strong that I sensed that our personal
relationship was in danger. I therefore said: Since you know the President
personally, and I dont, I will not argue with you over that.

Since I didnt want our conversation to end there, on that particular
subject, I went on a different tack. I had forgotten that to some people,
criticising President Robert Mugabe is tantamount to sacrilege. Unlike the
rest of us mortals, he can do no wrong.

I reminded my friend about the looting of the War Victims Compensation Fund
and the fact that the culprits were never brought to book. I mentioned the
Noczim fiasco and other parastatal failures which were never thoroughly
investigated. I talked about the violent land reform programme which only
succeeded in destroying our agricultural base.

I told him about bad economic policies which have brought the country to its
knees economically. I asked him whether the Public Order and Security Act
and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were not an
improvement on what the Rhodesia Front government had left on the statute
books. What about the present destruction of poor peoples sources of
livelihood as well as their homes without alternatives, I asked.

He admitted that most of what I was saying was true. He, however, added:
The problem is that the President has some people around him who are
self-seeking and dont give him correct advice.

I agreed and also added that in this case then our President is not a very
wise leader since he allows himself to be constantly misled by self-seekers.

My friend is right in a way. It is no secret that President Mugabe is
surrounded by some unsavoury characters. Some of them are well-meaning but
are so dim-witted and inept that one wonders what criteria was used to
appoint them to their influential positions in the party and the government.
One can only conclude that they are good boot-lickers.

Others are just corrupt self-seekers whose only interest is to acquire as
much wealth as possible by using their influential positions.

A good number are outright criminal mafia types who successfully ensconced
themselves in the higher echelons of power. Were he alive today and
observing his Zimbabwean counterparts, Al Capone would be green with envy.
He always wanted his Cosa Nostra to be respected as part of the American
way of life and be able to influence the government just like the
Zimbabwean mafia does today. He failed miserably and died in prison.

It is not true that President Mugabe is not aware that there are some rotten
eggs in his government. He has often publicly rebuked and warned them to
mend their ways. Unfortunately his words have not been matched by decisive
action. Instead, he chooses to blame the countrys problems on so-called
colonialists, imperialists and neo-colonialists. Its more convenient and
less problematic for him to do this.

President Mugabe should learn from his colleague and counterpart in South
Africa, President Thabo Mbeki, who recently relieved his close friend and
fellow freedom fighter, Jacob Zuma, of his position as Vice President of the
Republic of South Africa.

Zuma was not found guilty of any wrong doing by any court of law. However,
his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of corruption and
fraud in a high court ruling that also implicated Zuma and ruled that the
pairs relationship was generally corrupt. This in itself was enough for
Mbeki to fire his long-time friend and colleague.

It was not easy for Mbeki to fire Zuma. Not only is he a personal friend who
has done much for South Africa but he is also popular in the ANC rank and
file as well as its allies, the labour movement (Cosatu) and the Communist
Party. In fact, the move to fire Zuma has publicly been opposed by many in
the ANC and its allies. However, former president Nelson Mandela came out in
support of Mbeki saying he had made the right decision to fire Zuma. And
those democrats who believe that political leaders, be they African or not,
should be without reproach and of exemplary conduct are applauding Mbeki
today.

Those who are applauding Mbeki are now anxiously waiting for him to give a
lead to those countries in Africa which are threatening the success of Nepad
because of corruption, poor governance and abuse of human rights.

For a long time Zimbabweans have forlornly looked to him for such
statesman-like leadership. He has failed us miserably. We are not asking him
to personally interfere in our internal affairs or anything like that. We
just want him, as a regional leader and neighbour, to tell the truth about
our situation and shame the devil nothing more and nothing less.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Back to the Top
Back to Index